The Decade Civility Died, and "Civility" Replaced It - We used to talk about how to talk to each other. Now, when someone invokes "civility," they really just want you to shut up.

  
Via:  john-russell  •  4 weeks ago  •  19 comments

The Decade Civility Died, and "Civility" Replaced It - We used to talk about how to talk to each other. Now, when someone invokes "civility," they really just want you to shut up.
Civility is no longer something that is achievable, or even useful. When it's sought now, you can be certain it's coming from the powerful asking you to be civil as they take away your rights and destroy lives. And that makes civility—once the promise of listening across difference, now the demand for cowed fealty—more than just a moral punchline.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


.....Civility, like free speech generally, is now something we increasingly demand for ourselves and refuse to afford others. Civility means that we get to wish others a merry Christmas whether or not others celebrate it. Civility means that you can refuse service to an LGBT patron of your business, and that she should be politely accepting of that choice. Civility isn't about bridging the divide so much as it is about being treated civilly regardless of our words or actions.

Something fundamental shifted in the discussion after Donald Trump was elected in 2016. Suddenly, the problem was no longer vicious name-calling and incivility on Twitter (Donald Trump had, after all, tethered his own political fortunes to precisely those behaviors). Suddenly "civility" was no longer appropriate material for think tanks and academic conferences seeking to have government work more constructively. Instead, it became a defense for why Trump officials, who had crafted an entire government of cruelty, deserved polite service in restaurants nonetheless. In quick succession, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant for her support of an avowedly anti-LGBTQ administration; Mitch McConnell, Kirstjen Nielsen, and Stephen Miller all faced similar abuse at dining establishments; and just this month Ken Cuccinelli hotfooted his way out of a D.C. bar after being confronted by former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley for his role in family separation at the southern border. And suddenly, in the way it was being deployed in defense of all these people, civility had come to mean being nice to terrible people in public because it hurts their feelings when we do not.

Yes, there are still college seminars to be touted, and public fora to be attended, and strategies to be deployed. But the words have lost all meaning. Civility now has something to do with not talking, as opposed to how we talk. Mitch McConnell recently opined that "civility" is about angry tones, as opposed to corrupt actions, at least in the Senate: "We have plenty of incentive to get angry. But as you may have noticed, I try to stay calm, be respectful and don't get caught up in these intense debates that we have." Part of the reason we stopped speaking about civility, it seems, is that civility is now limited to how we speak. The other part, obviously, is that the same McConnell who doesn't like being shouted down in public derides (in the same speech) "young people, incentivized I think by the faculty actually on college campuses, who don't want to hear anything they may disagree with." So civility ultimately comes down to the thing students owe Mitch McConnell, but that he owes nobody.

And that is the other big reason we stopped talking about civility and spending money on civility and pining for civility after 2016. Because "civility" also became code for capitulation to those who want to destroy us. As Adam Serwer summarized it in this month's Atlantic: "There are two definitions of civility. The first is not being an asshole. The second is 'I can do what I want and you can shut up.' The latter definition currently dominates American political discourse."

In that vein, Joe Biden caused a stir in June when he thought back fondly to a more civil era in politics: Recalling his debates with avowed segregationists like Mississippi's James Eastland, Biden lamented, "At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn't agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today you look at the other side and you're the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don't talk to each other anymore."

The problem of course is that "getting things done" by meeting unabashed racists halfway no longer feels like a win-win, so much as capitulation. Serwer made this point eloquently: "The true threat to America is not an excess of vitriol, but that elites will come together in a consensus that cripples democracy and acquiesces to the dictatorship of a shrinking number of Americans who treat this nation as their exclusive birthright because of their race and religion. This is the false peace of dominance, not the true peace of justice. Until Americans' current dispute over the nature of our republic is settled in favor of the latter, the dispute must continue." In other words, there will be no civility if it means powerful men colluding to harm the powerless—nor should there be.

Neil Gorsuch, whose new book also tackles the issue of civility, starts from the same misconception Biden offered: "Self-governance turns on our treating each other as equals—as persons, with the courtesy and respect each person deserves—even when we vigorously disagree." In a country, and under a Supreme Court, that does not treat citizens as equals, for economic, free speech, voting rights, or civil rights purposes, the demand that we speak to one another as if that were somehow the case, as opposed to a strangled dream, sounds a lot like performance. But probably nobody did more to kill civility than Donald Trump himself, who at a campaign rally last October in Charlotte, North Carolina, soberly intoned that, "everyone will benefit if we can end the politics of personal destruction. … It is time for us to replace the politics of anger and destruction with real debate about the issues." Civility started as a call for listening. Trump has turned it into a demand for silence.

On the evening of his impeachment, the president attacked a dead member of Congress. In response, his widow pointedly asked for a return to "civility." Trump's spokespeople said in his defense that he is simply a "counterpuncher." (Whom he was punching against, given that the subject of his attack is, again, dead, is unclear). Somewhere between Donald Trump's speech and his wife's selective anti-bullying campaign, the irony around demands for civility collapsed in on itself. Civility is no longer something that is achievable, or even useful. When it's sought now, you can be certain it's coming from the powerful asking you to be civil as they take away your rights and destroy lives. And that makes civility—once the promise of listening across difference, now the demand for cowed fealty—more than just a moral punchline. That the call for civil discourse has been weaponized to chide and marginalize the vulnerable makes it an apt metaphor for a decade that started with the faint promise of bipartisan unity and closes with promises of partisan annihilation.


Tags

jrDiscussion - desc
smarty_function_ntUser_is_admin: user_id parameter required
Find text within the comments Find 
 
 
 
JohnRussell
1  seeder  JohnRussell    4 weeks ago
Instead, it became a defense for why Trump officials, who had crafted an entire government of cruelty, deserved polite service in restaurants nonetheless.

There is NO doubt that Trumpism has gotten what it deserves. 

A "demand" that both sides be blamed for Trumpism, or that Hillary Clinton be blamed for the behavior of the current president of the United States, is nothing less than bizarre.  "Civility" is not an appropriate response to a bizarro world. 

 
 
 
Dean Moriarty
1.1  Dean Moriarty  replied to  JohnRussell @1    4 weeks ago

When dealing with the uncivil bottle throwing Antifa sometimes it takes more than civility to neutralize the threat. 

 
 
 
WallyW
1.2  WallyW  replied to  JohnRussell @1    4 weeks ago
Trump officials, who had crafted an entire government of cruelty....

Untruthful statements like this don't help to promote civility

And  the current divisiveness certainty predates Trump

 
 
 
It Is ME
2  It Is ME    4 weeks ago

"when someone invokes "civility," they really just want you to shut up."

Exactly ! jrSmiley_13_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
It Is ME
2.1  It Is ME  replied to  It Is ME @2    4 weeks ago

"Civility, it is said, means obeying the unenforceable. "     
Ellen Goodman

 
 
 
PJ
3  PJ    4 weeks ago
The Decade Civility Died, And "Civility" Replaced It - We Used To Talk About How To Talk To Each Other. Now, When Someone Invokes "Civility," They Really Just Want You To Shut Up.

invoking civility for the purpose of shutting people up is exactly what this site does. 

Don't call the stupid people stupid or the racist people racist or the nutbags crazy even if there is evidence proving these people are stupid, racist and nutso.  Let's make them feel like they're equals and that what they want is just as important no matter that it means wiping out minorities or hanging blacks or conspiring with our foreign enemies.  It's far more important to push this notion that everyone should be respected then to stand up for what's right. 

"Speak your mind" is totally BS.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
3.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  PJ @3    4 weeks ago

It is a tremendous irony that various people, both conservatives and some independents, and probably even a few liberals,  require "civility" towards Donald Trump and his followers. 

Trump is the last person on earth that would receive civility as a mirror of his own words and behavior. 

 
 
 
MUVA
3.1.1  MUVA  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1    4 weeks ago

I don't think you have a problem with Trump it's your fellow citizens that you can't stand.

 
 
 
Freedom Warrior
3.1.2  Freedom Warrior  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1    4 weeks ago

Are you one of the folks that are pushing past the civility canard and are prepared for uncivil war instead?

 
 
 
It Is ME
3.2  It Is ME  replied to  PJ @3    4 weeks ago
It's far more important to push this notion that everyone should be respected then to stand up for what's right. 

One of Us.....One of Us.....One of Us ! jrSmiley_25_smiley_image.gif

256

It's like this must "Reach Across the Aisle" thingy everyone supposedly wants. jrSmiley_91_smiley_image.gif

Why have political parties then, if everyone "IS" supposed to be the "Same" ! jrSmiley_103_smiley_image.jpg

 
 
 
Heartland American
3.3  Heartland American  replied to  PJ @3    4 weeks ago

You are wrong in al that you wrote except for that last sentence.  It was and is so right on.  We can at least agree on that. 

 
 
 
bugsy
4  bugsy    4 weeks ago

A liberal calling for civility is like the same liberal calling someone a racist. Both are meant to shut someone up.

 
 
 
loki12
4.1  loki12  replied to  bugsy @4    4 weeks ago

Are these the same liberals who tell you African Americans are too stupid to get into college without their help? Or the Same liberals who say they are too stupid to get ID’s to vote? Right before they tell you you’re racist after you say they aren’t? Those liberals?

 
 
 
It Is ME
4.1.1  It Is ME  replied to  loki12 @4.1    4 weeks ago

Liberal types are "Great" at wanting one to reach across to "Their Aisle" for "Civilities" sake, but don't ask them to reach across to "Your Aisle". They'll be offended !

 
 
 
loki12
4.1.2  loki12  replied to  It Is ME @4.1.1    4 weeks ago

There are some with an amazing amount of hubris. They actually tell people they are voting against their own interests. Because those morons know what’s best for you, just look how those large liberal cities like San Francisco are run. You need to drop a deuce? Any aisle at Safeway will do.

 
 
 
It Is ME
4.1.3  It Is ME  replied to  loki12 @4.1.2    4 weeks ago
You need to drop a deuce? Any aisle at Safeway will do.

jrSmiley_86_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Tacos!
5  Tacos!    4 weeks ago
Civility means that we get to wish others a merry Christmas whether or not others celebrate it.

This is the example??? Does the writer live under a bridge and eat the goats who cross it?

If you have a problem with people wishing you a Merry Christmas, I'm thinking you don't know what real civility is. I mean, do you also get pissed off if people wish you "have a nice day?" Do you also get mad when people hold open the door for you or let you go first at the 4-way stop? How freaking uptight do you have to be to get bent out of shape because someone wished you well? Wow!

 
 
 
pat wilson
5.1  pat wilson  replied to  Tacos! @5    4 weeks ago

jrSmiley_28_smiley_image.gif  Amen !

 
 
 
Tacos!
6  Tacos!    4 weeks ago

Hey if you don't want to be civil, don't be civil. It's a free country, right? No one is going to make you be civil.

But if you want to be aggressive, judgy, call people names, and so on, don't be surprised when they turn around and tell you to fuck off. If you want to persuade people - if you actually want to get people thinking and change minds - you aren't going to do it by being a dick.

 
 
Loading...
Loading...

Who is online

bbl-1
GregTx
Sean Treacy


23 visitors